Cheap Mobile Usability Testing

Off the shelf mobile usability testing kit is very expensive, and even some of the “cobbled together” solutions can be hard to finance with shoestring budgets (read: startups). 

Harry Brignull from 90 Percent of everything has previously written about cheap ways to make usability testing “sleds” for your mobile devices.

A great solution was suggested by New Zealand-based UX expert Nick Bowmast, who recommends using a rectangular piece of acrylic, Continue reading

Why Don’t Usability Problems Get Fixed?

There are various reasons why usability problems exist in the first place—some simple and some complex. Identifying problems and recommending solutions is not always enough. Unfortunately, the same factors that cause problems in the first place also hinder their getting fixed. The following are some of the most common reasons why usability problems don’t get fixed.

  • Lack of Resources

o   No One Has the Skills to Fix Them
o   There Is a Lack of Time, Money, or Resources

  • Technical Limitations

o   Technical Limitations Make Changes Difficult
o   Vendor Software Is Difficult to Change Continue reading

Business Travel is Obsolete

While traveling in general can be a mixed bag. You know, with the trials and tribulations that come with arranging transportation, sleeping in ANY bed not your own, etc.  Traveling when required for work is obsolete in all but the most specialized of cases.

I think the biggest difference is that it is not really an option to bring along my family and after spending a whole weekend with my 1 year old, I really feel this is a downfall of business travel. Who wants to have an experience that only you can experience? I did the “after college backpacking” thing…I’m over it, really. Besides, the sterile hotels we tend to stay in are a far cry from the shared youth hostels of my youth which provided enough material for at least a year’s worth of blog posts (not to be included here).

Another point is that there is always the “acceptable expenses” hanging over your head. I mean, who decides how much I’ll eat at breakfast vs lunch or dinner? Why is a glass of wine not acceptable as a beverage? Have you ever been to Europe?

Long hours- I think there just really isn’t a justification for travel anymore; Especially with my industry. I am more than equipped to provide my clients with remote research…In every instance other than what I am doing this week…which is  focus groups. It is really hard to run a focus group from a remote location. That being said, I can do nearly every other type of research without setting foot in the same city with the users. This makes traveling for work a vestige of a bygone era.

What about the horrible affect on the environment with the cars, trains, planes and paper created of our traveling? I thought the internet was supposed to help us decrease my carbon footprint. It doesn’t change my culpability just because “my boss asked me to go.” Lets try to leave something for the next generation, shall we?

Cisco has created the Telepresence Rooms. I’ve used them. Amazing. With these, truly, it is like being there. Really no need to travel. Until they invent the transporters of Star Trek, I vote that I stay in my home town until the family is in need of a tropical vacation.

Thoughts from fellow travelers?

Focus Group Philosophy

While traditional usability testing has been the bulk of my recent work, there is a special place in my heart for focus groups.

I think it stems from the enjoyment I got from teaching as well as all the groups I ran as a counselor and facilitator.

I just get so excited watching a group dynamic and getting to hear so many opinions in such a short amount of time.

While I am completely aware of the limitations and downsides of peers affecting the statements of others, I will always keep focus groups in my usability toolbox.